THE family who run a South Tyneside clothing business have proved a perfect fit in the latest North-East rich list.
Dame Margaret and Helen Barbour and family, who run South Shields-based waxed jacket manufacturers J Barbour and Son, are the biggest movers in the list of the top 20 richest people in the region.
The annual Sunday Times Rich List put the family’s wealth at £315m – a rise of £140m and three places – to seventh.
Dame Margaret is a noted philanthropist backing many causes in the region.
Last year, she donated £1m to Newcastle University as part of wider giving totalling £4.9m.
Barbour was founded in 1894 in Market Place in South Shields.
The fifth-generation family-owned business remains in the North East, with Barbour’s headquarters located in Simonside, South Shields.
The lucrative table is topped by billionaire Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley.
His £3.7bn fortune seens him gain the upper hand over his counterpart at Sunderland, Ellis Short, who is second with a £1bn fortune.
Mike Ashley’s wealth has swelled by 63 per cent in the last year – placing him 22nd on the list of richest people nationwide.
He is one of 104 billionaires on the list, which will be published on Sunday.
The 20 richest in the North East are worth £8.62bn collectively. The success of Sports Direct, now one of Britain’s biggest retailers, has been key to the surge in Ashley’s wealth.
His stake in the business is worth £2.7bn, and he has sold shares worth £1.23bn since the company was floated in 2007.
While Newcastle United has swallowed about £260m of his cash since he acquired it, his wealth in the past year has grown by £1,450m.
The list is based on identifiable wealth, including land, property, other assets such as art and racehorses, or significant shares in publicly-quoted companies.
It excludes bank accounts, to which the paper has no access.
The list is compiled by Philip Beresford, the leading authority on British wealth, and edited by Ian Coxon.
Ashley and Short take up the top two spots in the list, and are joined in the top 10 by Middlesbrough supremo Steve Gibson, who ranks eighth with £205m.
Music icon Sting – who has been at the top of the charts for decades both as a solo artist and with The Police – is another top 10 hit.
His fortune of £180m – the same as last year – leaves him in 10th spot.
Williams Formula One boss Frank Williams, who was born in South Shields, is ranked 18th with £106m.